This was posted on NRO’s The Corner blog, and I thought that it was worthy of discussion – the concept that a ban on earmarks (some know this as “pork”)would be a bad idea. Now, keep in mind, I’m a huge Jim DeMint fan. I think he’s generally right on as far as the condemnation of wasteful spending and the ineffectiveness of the huge government bureaucracy. I’m down with this whole limited-government thing. This is not intended as a justification to expand government or continue funding projects that can’t be justified in this economy. However, there is an argument against a complete ban on earmarks, and Senator Jim Inhofe makes a good case for the opposition.
Here’s a quote from his post:
Demagoguing earmarks provides cover for some of the biggest spenders in Congress. Congressional earmarks, for all their infamous notoriety, are not the cause of trillion-dollar federal deficits (of all the discretionary spending that took place in Washington last year, earmarks made up only 1.5 percent). Nor will an earmark moratorium solve the crisis of wasteful Washington spending run amuck. While anti-earmarkers bloviate about the billions spent through earmarks, many of them supported the trillions of dollars in extra spending for bailouts, stimulus, and foreign aid. Talk about specks versus planks! Over the course of the last several years, the overall number and dollar amount of earmarks has steadily decreased. During that same time, overall spending has ballooned by over $1.3 trillion. In reality, ballyhooing about earmarks has been used as a ruse by some to seem more fiscally responsible than they really are.
Yeah. Condemning congressional earmarks is a painless way to pretend one is committed to fiscal responsibility. But I’m going to go a bit further then the Senator is willing to go, as far as what is generally considered out of bounds to most Republicans, especially elected ones. If we are really serious about dealing with our massive national debt, everything must be on the table for analysis -including defense spending. In addition to that, there must be some accountability and budget justification for all expenditures. The private sector does this. Why can’t the government do this? There’s too much fluid funny money, where money intended for one project goes to a different project. There’s no way of knowing how all this money is spent. We see this all the time from Washington, and this has to stop if we want to seriously deal with our debt problem.